Culture Minister switches on local digital radio signal for Oxford

Today, at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP switched on the new local DAB digital radio signal for Oxford meaning 300,000 listeners in the Oxford area can receive local DAB stations for the first time. The new local digital stations include BBC Radio Oxford, Jack FM, Heart, Capital and Gold. This improvement in local digital coverage around Oxford is part of a major radio industry investment in building local digital radio coverage across the UK.

Ed Vaizey, MP for Wantage and Didcot, and Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries formally switched on the new signal during a visit to the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford and said that this was great news for Oxford radio listeners in the area who can now get an excellent range of local DAB digital radio stations at home and in their car. The switch-on was also marked by a unique collaboration between public and private broadcasters as BBC Radio Oxford, Heart and JACK FM all broadcast live from the Museum of the History of Science, the home of the historic Marconi Radio exhibition.

The two new transmitters at Oxford and Farthinghoe take local digital radio coverage from zero to 61% of households, and brings local DAB digital radio to areas including Oxford, Abingdon, Bicester and Banbury for the first time. Local road coverage is also improved, adding over 200 miles of roads in the Oxford area to local DAB coverage for the first time.  This is the first stage of a plan to build-out local DAB coverage around Oxford that will see a further transmitter launched in SW Oxford next year and more new transmitters in the coming years.

Many listeners in these areas already have digital radios and listen to more than 20 national stations on digital radio, from commercial radio and the BBC, but until now they have been unable to listen to their favourite local radio stations on DAB. The importance of local radio stations to listeners has been shown in research carried out by the radio industry regulator, Ofcom. Listeners can check what stations they can receive at getdigitalradio.com  

This switch-on comes as the Government has said they will make a decision on radio switchover later in 2013. This follows the completion of the successful digital TV switchover in Oxford in 2011 (nationally in 2012).

Digital radio sales have grown with 42% of home now having a DAB digital radio and according to GfK a cumulative total of 16 million digital radio sets sold to date in the UK, including DAB radios and internet radios.

Progress on digital radio in cars continues with the recent announcement from BMW that they will fit all new cars with digital radio from January 2013. All MINIs now come with digital radio as standard, with a large number made at the BMW Group factory in Oxford. This follows recent announcements by Ford and Vauxhall that they will install digital radio as standard in new vehicles and offer digital radio adapters to all their customers via their franchise dealer network.

The radio industry communications campaign featuring digital radio evangelist D Love who encourages everyone to spread the love for digital radio this Christmas is currently on air on BBC TV and BBC and Commercial Radio nationally , including BBC Radio Oxford , Jack FM and Heart Oxford in the Oxford area.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey says: "I'm very happy to be switching on these new transmitters for local digital radio in the Oxford area. Boosting local coverage means the excellent range of local DAB digital radio stations can be received by even more listeners, at home and in their car."

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, says: "We know that people love the extra choice on digital radio and as an Oxford man it gives me great pleasure that these new digital radio transmitters bring local digital radio to 300,000 Oxford households for the first time, meaning people can benefit from extra stations and digital quality sound. That's another good reason to get a digital radio for Christmas."

Paul Eaton Director of Digital Radio at Arqiva said: "We're delighted to be able to bring these services to digital radio in Oxfordshire. Research has shown how much people value their local radio stations, so we hope this will make a big difference to the digital radio listening experience in the county".

A spokesperson from Global Radio, owners of Capital, Heart and Gold, said: "We are committed to extending digital coverage through local transmitters across the UK and today's switch on, which provides digital radio to more than half the households across Oxfordshire, is another important step for our industry."

Ian Walker, General Manager of Jack FM, says: "We at Jack FM are delighted to welcome the Minister Ed Vaizey to Oxford to switch on the local digital transmitters, which means that our award winning services can now reach many more local listeners on digital radio."

Marianne Bell, Editor of BBC Radio Oxford, says: "We are delighted that BBC Radio Oxford will be available to listeners on DAB for the first time, bringing local news and stories to our listener with the digital benefits of easy tuning and scrolling information."

20.12.2012 | General, Stations

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